Earlier this week, FIFA, alongside its selection of the Ballon D’Or Winner in Cristiano Ronaldo, announced its team of the year, voted on by players, coaches, and pundits.
While some decisions were almost unanimously agreed upon, a few left some heads to be scratched. Starting from the back, to the shock of absolutely nobody, Bayern’s Manuel Neuer was named as the goalie for the side. After winning both the Bundesliga and the World Cup, both his domestic and international teams owe a great deal to the blonde-haired sweeper keeper.
Slotted in at right back was Philipp Lahm, returning from his central midfield role normally preferred by Bayern Manager Pep Guardiola. As part of the same teams as the aforementioned Neuer, Lahm was an instrumental force in keeping his teams together. At center back, Sergio Ramos made the cut, presumably for his efforts with Real Madrid.
Aside from scoring the game tying goal with seconds to go in stoppage time in the Champions’ League final, the Spaniard was all over the field for Los Blancos, even if his national team turned in an underwhelming showing at the World Cup.
Next to him, PSG’s Thiago Silva occupied the other center back role. In something of a confusing choice, the Brazilian was picked despite his national team’s defense falling apart spectacularly against Neuer’s Germany at the World Cup.
However, based on strong play for his Parisian side, most pundits accepted the choice. In the most controversial selection of the bunch, Silva’s teammate David Luiz made the cut to round out the defenders over the likes of Jerome Boateng and Diego Godin.
Whatever inconsistencies Silva showed were intensified by Luiz in Brazil, even if he commanded a world record transfer fee for a defender from Chelsea to PSG. In the midfield, German midfielder Toni Kroos received his first nomination to the team, as his efforts alongside Lahm in the German midfield did not go unnoticed, in addition to his stellar form at the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Speaking of Madrid, former Madrid man Angel Di Maria made the cut, as many hoped he would. After being arguably the heart and soul of Carlo Ancelotti’s Decima winning side, the Argentine turned in a sublime performance at the World Cup, and has been in form at new club Manchester United.
Rounding out the midfield was the familiar face of Andres Iniesta, who, alongside Xavi, continued to control the tempo at Barcelona. Even though both club and country had an off year, the Spaniard can hardly be one to blame, as his passing statistics were still otherworldly.
Moving onto the attack, Arjen Robben rounded out the Munich triumvirate, and deservedly so. Even though he’s considered by some to be a one trick pony, that one trick served the Dutchmen pretty darn well, as his Oranje made it all the way to the semifinals of the World Cup, in addition to all the aforementioned domestic success of Bayern Munich.
At striker, the magician himself, Lionel Messi, earned yet another nomination to the team, capping off a year of goal after goal, and record broken after record broken. Finally, saving who FIFA determined to be best for last, Ballon D’or Winner Cristiano Ronaldo rounded out the team of the year, after a nearly perfect season with Real Madrid.
Even if his Portuguese side was unable to escape the group of death in Brazil, it would be just about impossible to argue against his inclusion. As the year moves forward, only time will tell which of these 11 will retain their spot on the team of the year, and which newcomers will burst onto the stage.